IAEA Concludes Safety Review at Chooz Nuclear Power Plant in France
An IAEA-led international team of nuclear safety experts noted good practices and made recommendations to reinforce safety measures during a review of operational safety at France's Chooz Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) that concluded today.
The Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) was assembled at the French Government's request. The in-depth review, which began 17 June, focused on aspects essential to the safe operation of the NPP. The team comprised experts from Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, China, India, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Canada, Hungary and the IAEA.
The review covered the areas of management, organization and administration; training and qualification of personnel; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency planning and preparedness; and severe accident management. The conclusions of the review are based on the IAEA's Safety Standards.
The OSART team identified good plant practices that will be shared with the rest of the nuclear industry for consideration. Examples include:
- The plant has a professional development programme as part of a joint employment effort shared by the plant and its contractors. This enables trainees to develop professional capability, understand practices and gain experience from other nuclear power plants in terms of work planning and coordination;
- The plant has built a strong relationship between the on-shift response team of the plant and the local fire brigade to improve firefighting and rescue operations;
- Self-assessment groups discuss and resolve specific issues within operations, empowering operations personnel to take ownership of improvement programmes; and
- The plant has improved warnings at entrances to all "orange zones", areas of elevated dose rates to which only authorized staff have access.
The team identified a number of improvements to operational safety at Chooz NPP. Examples include:
- The plant should review its process for the management of corrective maintenance and leak repair to minimize backlogs and maintain plant safety;
- The plant should enhance the chemistry control program to cover all chemistry aspects of plant systems;
- The plant should enhance the process of root cause analysis of safety significant events to improve the depth of analysis of such events; and
- The plant should consider improving systems to allow clear identification of deficiencies in the field once they have been recognized.
Chooz management expressed a determination to address all the areas identified for improvement and requested the IAEA to schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months.
The team delivered a draft of its recommendations, suggestions and good practices to the plant management in the form of Technical Notes for factual comments. The technical notes and comments from the plant and the French Safety Authority will be reviewed at IAEA headquarters. The final report will be submitted to the Government of France within three months.
This was the 175th mission of the OSART programme, which began in 1982, and the 25th mission in France.
The next OSART mission in France is scheduled at Flamanville Units 1 and 2 in 2014.
General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA Website.
An OSART mission is designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the plant's overall safety status. Experts participating in the IAEA's June 2010 International Conference on Operational Safety of Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) reviewed the experience of the OSART programme and concluded:
- In OSART missions NPPs are assessed against IAEA Safety Standards which reflect the current international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety; and
- OSART recommendations and suggestions are of utmost importance for operational safety improvement of NPPs.
The IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan defines a programme of work to strengthen the nuclear safety framework worldwide in the light of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. The Plan was unanimously endorsed by IAEA Member States during the Agency's 55th General Conference in September 2011. The Action Plan recommended: "Each Member State with nuclear power plants to voluntarily host at least one IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission during the coming three years, with the initial focus on older nuclear power plants. Thereafter, OSART missions to be voluntarily hosted on a regular basis."
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